American Consequences - January 2018

Computers can’t even have the most primitive, immature kind of fun, such as drawing dirty graffiti on toilet stall walls. And not just because computers don’t go to the toilet (no “core dump” wisecracks, please). Computers think in 0s and 1s. Here is the closest a computer can come to drawing dirty graffiti: O O O l l And the computer doesn’t know this is dirty because although computers can store a lot of knowledge, they don’t actually know anything. Computers don’t know that seventh-grade boys think it’s funny to draw stick figures of women with large breasts unless it’s been entered into their computer databases. And seventh-grade boys, stupid as they are, don’t input that kind of thing because Mom – who’s no dummy – has keylogger software installed on their computers. What would computer fun be like anyway? “Let’s switch power supply from 120-volt house current to the 240-volt utility line and blow our circuit breakers !” More probably, it’s, “Let’s all get together and beat Garry Kasparov at chess again.” Big whoop. There is no such thing as smart fun. Fun starts out dumb when we’re little kids sticking beans up our noses, and it gets dumber as we get bigger and richer. For example, one of my favorite ways to have fun is deep-sea fishing – a sport based on my

spending thousands of dollars to prove that a marlin with a brain the size of a Zippo lighter can outsmart me. Which returns us to the Turing Test... Yes, the computer can fool you into thinking you’re communicating with a normal human being. But it can’t fool you into thinking you’re communicating with a normal human being that you’d like to have as a buddy. Try the “P.J. Test.” Tell the computer, “Hold my beer and watch this !” Now pour that beer into the computer. Screw you, Mr. Busy Box. I’ll start worrying about artificial intelligence when I encounter any intelligence at all.

Hank Blaustein | © 2015 Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. Used by permission.

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